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#REVIEW - The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag
For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.
Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.
Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways. My Take: 5+++ Stars!
I am a lover of beautiful fabrics, threads, sewing, and take all of this and throw a little magic into the pot with it all and you have one perfect dress for just the right woman, so by getting the chance to be able to read the first chapter was divine! I HAD to read this one! I was mesmerized! (Still am!)
Etta, grandmother yet also more mother to Cora as she has raised her since age five because both of Cora’s parents died on her fifth birthday, (this mystery is also brought up in the book, too) is a designer and seamstress to all of these dresses in the shop, and everyone comes from all over London and other places to Etta’s shop to buy their dresses. In addition to making these magical dresses, Etta also sews something very tiny, some magic, right into their piece of clothing, something no one would ever see or know it had been stitched into their clothing or dresses, and it was meant to be for whatever occasion, love, friendship, whatever the magic knew the dress was for. Luck, love, friendship and much more. For instance, one woman was up for an award in a play, so Etta stitched a little red star into her dress for luck. Etta really felt what she did worked because she would see things play out the way she had hoped they would. It truly worked every time she did it, but it wasn’t always exactly perfect, and this is why she hadn’t done anything like this to Cora, yet. Etta was hoping nature would take it’s course, but nothing had happened yet. Etta thought for sure Walt was the man for Cora, but does Cora like Walt? Etta went and sewed a little magic into one of Walt’s shirts. She waits.
Etta, now at age 69, still longs for a man for herself still, too. She doesn’t think it will ever happen again especially at her age now, but she can’t shake the feeling. She misses it, and you never know what that store full of magic dresses may bring her way.
One day Cora visited the house where she grew up until her parents were killed in. The owner was home, and laughingly invited Cora to walk through the house for memories sake, but she was only five, so what could she possibly remember? She did recognize the layout, but she can’t shake the feeling of how someone can just move right back into a house and have life go on. Slap new paint on it, clean the house and move back in. Cora leaves, and continues walking, which kind of drives you a little crazy because she has OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so she counts things. The lines in the sidewalk, she can’t step on the lines, etc., etc. It’s endearing to the character. I kind of felt sorry for Cora.
Walt, growing weary of waiting for Cora, meets another woman. Milly. She happens to be 17 years older than he is! Hmmm? He even consults a priest to make sure his attraction to this woman is okay. The priest said it was, and that calms Walt right down. Since Cora hasn’t paid attention to him like he did to her, he hasn’t even felt his heart beat. Is it broken?
There are several other beautiful characters and even more storyline to this book in addition to what I talk about here. This book is definitely worth the read! I was lost in another world inside of this book! I loved everything about this book! I could read this book through a second time, and I know I would probably pick up on even more things the second time around! I will be looking forward to more books by this author! This book would be an excellent Book Club pick! I received this book from the publisher Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine through NetGalley in exchange for a review.